two truck campers one is hard and other is soft

Comparing Hard Vs. Soft Side Truck Campers

Truck campers are lightweight recreational vehicles that slide on the back of the pickup truck. Truck campers are the best solution for overland and offroad camping. It’s your preference to choose between the hard- and soft-side truck campers. 

The selection between hard-side and soft-side truck campers is crucial, as it directly affects your adventure trip. Factors like insulation, weight, and weather resistance are always kept in mind during the selection of your best-suited camper.

In this article, we are going to help you make the right decision by elaborating on the major differences and characteristics of both types and all the possible pros and cons of choosing hard-side and soft-side truck campers. So, you can make the best possible choice.  

Hard-Sided Truck Campers

A white hard side truck camper on a camping trip
A hard-side truck camper is constructed with solid material.

Hard-side truck campers have hard walls and hard ceilings that are mostly fixed and have no sliders. All the material used is robust and sturdy. Even in hard-sided pop-up truck campers, the pop-up part is made up of aluminum or wood.


  • The hard-sided truck campers are more insulated and preferred for 4-season camping as they can withstand extreme temperatures.
  • They are more soundproof for peaceful wild camping.
  • These campers are more secure and durable as compared to soft-sided pop-up campers.
  • These campers are preferred for long-term usage as their construction is very firm and they are mostly built with all the amenities for luxurious camping.


  • Hard-sided truck campers are mostly heavier in weight because of their solid construction.
  • They are less flexible in terms of size, height, and storage, which may sometimes affect their offroad capabilities.
  • Due to their heavier weight, they are less fuel efficient.
  • These campers are more costly as compared to soft-sided pop-up campers.
  • Additionally, they require more setup time as compared to soft-sided pop-up campers.
  • The fuel mileage A hard-side camper’s additional drag and weight significantly increase the cost of long trips.

Soft Side Truck Campers

Soft sided pop up truck camper on a camping trip by "The campers World"
A soft-sided truck camper has a pop-up part constructed of a soft material.

Soft-sided truck campers are more breathable and flexible. Along with the solid material, they also have a pop-up part made up of some vinyl fabric or canvas, either on the upper walls or on the roof. This canvas and fiber can easily pop up or pop down for extra flexibility. The collapsible design of the soft-side truck camper makes it easy to carry.


  • These campers are more lightweight and compact.
  • They can be easily accommodated in the home garage and can be carried anywhere quite easily. 
  • They are low-profile and fuel-efficient.
  • Soft-sided truck campers are usually cheaper as compared to hard-sided truck campers.


  • 1. Soft-sided truck campers provide less insulation and soundproofing as compared to hard-sided campers.
  • 2. They provide less insulation for extreme weather. So, you need some extra protection for hot or cold weather. Also, it is less secure for wild camping.

Key Considerations in Choosing Between Hard And Soft Side Truck Campers

Intended use and travel conditions: Before choosing between the hard or soft-sided truck camper for your next camping adventure, you should know your intended use and travel conditions. If you are mostly camping in extreme weather conditions, then you better go for a hard-sided camper. If you mostly go offroading on unpaved terrain or mountains, then soft-sided campers are the better option for you.

Weight and towing capacity of the truck: If you already own a truck and want a camper for the truck, then the choice of the camper depends upon the weight and towing capacity of the truck. 

Budget considerations: The most important thing that can never be neglected is to choose the truck camper that fits into your budget. Hard-sided truck campers are usually more expensive as compared to so-sided truck campers.

Personal preferences and lifestyle: Among all the other factors, the most important is your own personal preferences and your lifestyle. If you want more luxurious offroad and off-grid camping with full amenities, you will have more options in the hard-sided truck camper. But if you are more adventurous and love being closer to nature, you will find great options among breathable soft-side truck campers that are ready to go anywhere. 

There are many people who decide to start living in their truck camper. For them, the hard-sided truck camper is the ultimate choice.  

Real-life Experiences

Hard side truck camper and soft side truck camper both on a camping trip
Comparing hard and soft-side truck campers

Testimonials from hard-side truck camper owners:

Testimonials from soft-side truck camper owners:

Another person shared his experience with the soft side pop-up camper, saying,

Another person who owns both soft and hard side campers says,


Hard-sided truck campers and their camping trips are quite costly. They are not recommended for stealth camping or long off-road trips on rough terrain. They are ideal for those who decided to live in a truck camper so that they could feel secure and safe and have extra weather protection. It is also good for short, luxurious camping trips and camping on the campsites.

Soft-sided pop-up campers are good for stealth camping. Also for long, adventurous trips on the rough terrain. Choose soft-sided pop-up campers if weight and cost are your major considerations.

Different people have different opinions about having a soft-side or hard-side camper, and we respect everyone’s opinions. The choice is mostly based on personal experiences. We encourage you to personally experience both types before making a final decision.  

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